Greece is a huge country with thousands of islands and if you are a backpacker you will probably find yourself asking “what are the best cities to visit?”. Backpackers heading to Greece are in for a treat. Due to the struggles with the economy, now is a perfect time to head to the ancient lands of philosophers and Spartans. Those on a budget will enjoy how easy it is to travel around with low prices on food, drink, travel, and accommodation.
When it comes to Greece, it’s all about the cities in Greece. Steeped in fascinating history and culture, it’s in the cities of Greece you will truly experience the country. Here are the top Greek cities for backpackers.
Party Like Never Before In Mykonos
Mykonos tops most backpackers list of Greek cities simply because it is a mad party town. Backpackers like to party and Mykonos likes to welcome party people. You might find its locals consider it better than Ibiza…we’re not too sure about that but it definitely knows how to throw a party. Mykonos is definitely one of the most popular cities in Greece and one of the best cities to visit on your trip.
Party season is late-June to mid-September. The best Mykonos clubs are Scorpios, Astra, Kalua Beach Bar, Pasaji, Cava Paradiso and Sant Anna. There are some great places to stay here including options to camp. It does get warm here so consider the time of year you’re going and whether camping is a good idea.
Foodies will also love Mykonos with its vast array of traditional Greek specialties. Look out for some Greek favorites such as Moussaka, a dish made with eggplant and bechamel sauce baked in the oven. Gyros is also a popular choice in Mykonos, spit-roasted meat and vegetables wrapped up in pita bread drizzled with tzatziki.
Make Your History And Visit Crete
If you are looking for Greek cities with beautiful beaches, great food and slice of culture then look no further than the city of Crete. A backpacker’s favorite Greek destination and for good reason. There is a myriad of activities to get involved in including a number of watersports like jet-skiing, kite surfing, scuba diving, and canoeing.
Food to look out for includes the local feta cheese atop a traditional Cretan salad, fish of the day and calamari. In fact, all the seafood on this island is to die for. The best food can be found in Rethymno, where you can sit by the docks with a bottle of red wine and enjoy the sunset whilst munching on some traditional Greek food. Don’t miss the Rethymno beaches, all offer white sand and blue water to relax by.
Crete also has a great nightlife. It’s not too chaotic, suited more for those who enjoy the bar scene. Expect a myriad of cocktails to the background noise of popular electronic music. Crete is a great place to meet like-minded people, don’t be surprised if you end up creating a small group of friends on the island. When choosing where to go to Greece, don’t miss this incredible city.
Embrace The Nature Of Kalymnos
The Dodecanese islands are slightly more remote than other islands in Greece so people tend to not visit them as much. This is a real shame because places like Kalymnos have a lot to offer backpackers; especially if you like rock climbing. In fact, Kalymnos is an international climbing destination with over 60 beautiful climbing spots.
If you are looking for a party and raving nightlife then Kalymnos is definitely not for you as it’s one of the most peaceful cities in Greece. This island is more about nature and relaxation. The food here is also fantastic, a local dish highlight is Kakavia. This is a traditional fisherman’s soup using a variety of local seafood and vegetables. Kalymnos is one of the best cities to visit for food.
Not only is the island just as beautiful as it’s counterparts, but it’s also far cheaper. A great place for any backpackers looking for a bit of adventure and pristine nature.
Dive Into An Adventure In Amorgos
Once you have finished climbing in Kalymnos (above), get your hiking boots on and head over to Amorgos. The area is famous for stunning peaks and challenging walks, home to some of the best scenery of all the Greek cities. All the trails here are called ‘blue paths’ because no matter where you go on these walks you will be able to see the turquoise water of the Aegean Sea.
The city itself feels like stepping back in time with its sun-blasted white buildings, bougainvilleas, and stunning sunsets. The cuisine here is very homely here with lots of tasty red meat (lamb, goat, and pork) and root vegetable dishes. Expect fewer seafood options here. Accommodation can be difficult for backpackers with no hostels and just the Amorgos hotels on offer.
There is also an opportunity for diving here too. A great chance to see the exotic fish living beneath that glorious blue surface. Interestingly, it was the film ‘The Big Blue’ that made the waters of Amorgos famous. Now, divers of all levels come here for the fascinating marine life that lives here.
Live Life In Thessaloniki
When it comes to cities in Greece, Thessaloniki has so much on offer for backpackers and is one of the best cities to visit for a mix of history, good vibes, and food. Check out the vibrant Thessaloniki nightlife scene, great food, and buzzing atmosphere. The place is also steeped in Balkanic, Ottoman and Jewish history which offers a multitude of interesting sights and UNESCO-listed monuments to watch out for.
This is Greece’s second city making it slightly less touristy than Athens but still feels like authentic Greece. It is slightly chaotic in the city but that is part of the charm of Thessaloniki. The city also has a wonderful cuisine and is a gastronomic paradise. Every which way you turn to, expect to be confronted by someone selling you bread, pastries, grilled meats, fresh vegetables or pies. Make sure you experience an Ouzo or Meze house for the full food experience. Whilst in Thessaloniki, don’t miss the opportunity to visit Halkidiki nearby. This city is one of the most interesting and also boasts a fantastic nightlife worth checking out.
Visit The Great City Of Athens
We couldn’t possibly miss out on Athens, could we? Athens is a beacon of astounding human history. You name it and the idea or concept probably originated from this city from some philosopher, writer or politician. It’s easy to get lost here with so much to do and with such large crowds so what’s the best action plan?
Go during the off-season (avoid July and August), have an itinerary, walk everywhere, eat cheap and tasty gyros, do all the free stuff available like museums and major sites. The top sites worth visiting in Athens are the Acropolis of Athens, Parthenon, The National Gardens, and The Museum of Cycladic Art.
Relax And Enjoy Your Time In Folegandros
Greek cities come in all shapes, sizes, and forms. Folegandros is a unique city and also a great spot for hiking. Expect more narrow streets and white buildings with epic views over the ocean. You should be able to explore the entire island by foot as it’s quite small and the paths are well kept. Folegandros isn’t a hugely popular place, it’s a bit of a hidden gem for any adventurous backpackers out there and is one of the less known cities in Greece.
The island has some food specialties that should not be missed including Kalasouna, a typical Folegandros cheese pie. Cooked capers are a local favorite and the dish Matsata which is handmade pasta with rabbit or cockerel. The island has a very laid back vibe which will be well needed after Athens. It’s a chance to soak up the Mediterranean sun and enjoy a local Greek beer. Make sure you check out Katero beach is you visit, it has crystal clear blue waters and stunning cliffs.
See History On The Beaches Of Peloponnese
In the city of Peloponnese, you have the opportunity to explore ancient grounds, traditional Greek cuisine, and some archaeological wonders. Another great place for avid hikers for you can climb the mountain and stop at some stunning Greek villages along the way.
When it comes to food, the Peloponnese people like their food fresh. Most of the food you will find here is locally grown, organic and healthy. Expect dishes that focus on local produce including olive oil, lemon, fresh fish, lamb, honey and the local vegetables grown here. There are some gorgeous Peloponnese beaches to be discovered here such as Forneas Beach and Mavrovouni beach. Again, much like Folegrandos, this city has a very chilled vibe. It offers a slightly different Greek experience than the tourist hotspots.
Join The Party In Ios
If you are in Ios during July and August expect lots of young Europeans having a good time. A good opportunity for backpackers to meet people and join the party. Some might say it’s a more chilled version of Mykonos. You can party but it won’t get as crazy which can be a good thing. Ios is one of the most balanced cities in Greece for this reason.
This island is considered the burial place of the famous Greek poet, Homer. You can go see his burial site and learn more about him and his poetry. His tomb is situated on a beautiful hillside overlooking the Aegean sea. You will find beautiful beaches here in Ios with accompanying chilled beach bars and restaurants brimming with booze and seafood. There are some uber-cool beach clubs to visit too such as FarOut, EREGO and Sunset Club.